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Tape Emulation - fatso, 5042, ats 1
Old 4th April 2015
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Tape Emulation - fatso, 5042, ats 1

Hello I am looking for a good hardware tape saturator. I want something that really sounds nice and can be pushed hard. I like the sound of a lot of saturation so I would like something that still sounds pleasing when abused - at least to an extent. Please dont tell me to buy a tape machine I am not interested in running every sample I want through an actual tape machine.

The ones I have heard of so far are the fatso, 5042 and ATS-1, I dont know the differences between these so any info would be great.

I am making hip hop fyi but may also use on electronic music.

Thanks
Old 5th April 2015
  #2
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IanBSC's Avatar
I have two UBK Fatso which I really love. I would not say that they are tape emulators, though. Tape always has an EQ curve the Fatso does not. The Fatso gently clips the peaks, smoothing out the sound and with the Warmth circuit you can significantly soften the highs. The Transformer button gives you a transformer sound, but it does seem different from a real head bump.

So basically it mellows or smooths the pricklies from your signal, adding a little size and warmth, but it doesn't sound that much like tape. Indispensable box, though. The compressors are great as well, esp. for drum buss.
Old 5th April 2015
  #3
Gear Nut
 

is it possible to get some nice distortion going with the fatso, nothing unpleasant but also not a rounded sound? I like what some tape emulators do to the upper mids. I am looking for a machine that does more then just a subtle effect.

Also does anyone have experience with the neve 542?

Thanks for the response!
Old 5th April 2015
  #4
I have a pair of 542's coming this week. I'll report back with my findings!
Old 5th April 2015
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Hi I have both fatso and anamod...

I used to use the fatso for the mix bus to "mix to" at the end of my 2 bus chain, then I got the anamod. You can push the fatso harder, the anamod can get pretty nasty sounding if you push it too hard on a full mix, especially depending on the genre. It's not very subtle at all actually, and just doesn't sound great with certain material. Any modern pop for example, really saturates hard and it loses some "modernness" but for rock and more "traditional" stuff it sounds amazing. It works out because the fatso has much more "headroom" as far as saturation goes and sounds great with modern pop stuff and it frees up the anamod to use for other stuff such as saturation or parallel processing for stuff like synths or drum machines... and with rock, the fatso sounds great on stuff like acoustics, heavy guitars, drum bus, parallel drums, etc. and then the anamod goes on the mix.

has anyone else experienced the anamod being way too much and not being able to handle modern pop/dance/etc.?? it's almost like it doesn't have enough headroom and I have to lower the input so that the input levels are ridiculously low and crank the output to make up for it.


oh also it's worth noting i don't have a ton of experience with real tape, but the anamod sounds way different than the fatso which leads me to believe that the fatso doesn't sound exactly like tape, but it def adds nice juice to any signal you feed it.
Old 5th April 2015
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

I've been falling in love with the saturator on the EL Mike-E channel strip, but obviously mono and I use it for tracking.
Old 5th April 2015
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

I don't have hands-on experience with it, but there is also the Sound Skulpture STS. Its an advanced DIY project, but you have the option of buying it fully assembled. It includes the EQ curves and common circuitry in a tape machine, and then uses an inductor (I believe) to emulate the tape head and saturation. Also, on the note of DIY, there is a colour palette designed to emulate tape saturation.
Old 5th April 2015
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nick8801 View Post
I have a pair of 542's coming this week. I'll report back with my findings!
please do! The 542 uses a real tape head and from what i read it seems awesome, buying two is kind of a pain but if I was definitely thinking about it.

As for the fatso and anamod, can you possibly link me too examples of a very saturated sound? Could be a full mix or individual instrument would just like to hear what both sound like pushed hard.

Also I was looking at skulptor but from what I read it is the farthest from all of them as far as tape sound goes, does anyone have an audio example of this one pushed hard as well? Would love to hear what is sounds like, since it is the most affordable.
Old 5th April 2015
  #9
I used tape for many years before deciding to ditch it for good. I've had both the Sound Skulptor STS and The Fatso. The STS is far too subtle and doesn't do tape very well at all. I was able to get a much better tape sim just using an inductor EQ with 2 to 3 db boosted at 60 hz and 2 to 3 db shaved off at 16 k. The Fatso sounds even less like tape. I didn't like what the Fatso does. The distortion is mainly 3rd order and I just don't like the sound of it. The warmth circuit I thought was nothing more than a dulling circuit, and I couldn't hear the transformer doing anything. The compressors were very underwhelming to me as well.
Old 5th April 2015
  #10
Lives for gear
a lot of these comments by Rob and Aramism also apply to the 5042 (not the 542 -- never tried it). it adds up nicely on individual tracks but it's not 2 buss tape. it's saturation + tape eq curve, but without the "gooey". add that to the term thread..
Old 5th April 2015
  #11
What I've read about all the various Tape Sim gear out there is that they're all still quite far off compared to using a real Tape Machine.

Keith.
Old 5th April 2015
  #12
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Sotsirc's Avatar
 

At the bottom of this page (see link) I've included drums processed with my tape machine and drums processed with a Fatso. Unfortunately they're not the same drum loop but you can still compare with the original in both cases.
Services - Magnetic Sound
Old 5th April 2015
  #13
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There is also the Overstayer Saturator, though I don't think it's trying to sound like tape in particular.

You might try something like a CAPI VP28 or Chandler Germanium for driving a signal to roll off high end and introduce harmonic distortion. I really like the sound of the CAPI stuff and I think it does enough to the signal that I wouldn't want a tape emulator anyway -- it would be overcooked.

Do a search for "CAPI missing link" and "audio bacon" if you want to hear some examples.

Otherwise I think the Anamod ATS is, by all accounts, the premier tape emulator.

The RND stuff sounds nice but it sounds more like the RND line amps than anything. It saturates the signal pretty evenly and "cleanly", almost like digital saturators, but it doesn't do the tapey 3d sparkle thing.
Old 5th April 2015
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Thank you all for the excellent feedback. To be clear the effect of tape I am looking for is not just rolling off the high end, tape and emulators i like (i think either the 5042 or 542 and ats 1 are my best bets) create a nice distortion with the upper mids and even some higher frequencies. I don't just want something that sounds like an EQ that dulls stuff out, or merely adding gain/compression. I want to know I put a saturator on something. To me the effect of tape saturation or emulators when pushed hard should be obvious and if its of high quality can be very pleasing for hip hop, electronic/pop tracks.
Old 6th April 2015
  #15
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IanBSC's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by harrisonv View Post
is it possible to get some nice distortion going with the fatso, nothing unpleasant but also not a rounded sound? I like what some tape emulators do to the upper mids. I am looking for a machine that does more then just a subtle effect.
The distortion is actually fairly subtle. It kind of lops off the headroom and makes everything buttery. The audio gets warmer, and you can indeed push into the red, full distortion, but it's not like distorting a 1073 or a tube etc. I have actually tried to use it as distortion box, and it just wasn't nasty enough.

The basic effect of the Fatso to me is that it takes away the height of the sound (tall transients, space, headroom) and subjectively increases the overall size with a tad bit of distortion.
Old 6th April 2015
  #16
Gear Nut
 

Does anyone have an audio example of 542 or 5042 pushed hard on a drum loop or instrument?? Would really appreciate it if someone who owned either could upload one.
Old 6th April 2015
  #17
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

At ZenPro Audio we made a full HD video featuring drums, vocals and mix buss using the RND 542. All modes are selected (IPS and SILK) and I do push it to hear the extremes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItL4VFxpmv8

War
Old 6th April 2015
  #18
Gear Nut
 

thanks for posting! Honestly after hearing that video I am now kind of thinking the Anamod ATS-1 is my only option. The neve is still pretty subtle and doesnt add much sparkle in the upper mids.
Old 6th April 2015
  #19
I am not aware of tape adding sparkle to a mix and I have worked with tape for years. Not sure what you mean by that. This 542 is an update to the 5042 and is more flexible than the original unit. I would buy two but I want it in a horizontal and not in 500 series as I don't have any 500 series gear. Dobt like having to buy a rack unit to fit in my rack and have to buy six 500 series to fill it up. Having empty spaces looks lame in a rack.
Old 6th April 2015
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
BearOnGuitar's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead View Post
At ZenPro Audio we made a full HD video featuring drums, vocals and mix buss using the RND 542. All modes are selected (IPS and SILK) and I do push it to hear the extremes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItL4VFxpmv8

War
Thanks for posting your video, the RND 542 sounds amazing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason rocks View Post
I am not aware of tape adding sparkle to a mix and I have worked with tape for years. Not sure what you mean by that. This 542 is an update to the 5042 and is more flexible than the original unit. I would buy two but I want it in a horizontal and not in 500 series as I don't have any 500 series gear. Dobt like having to buy a rack unit to fit in my rack and have to buy six 500 series to fill it up. Having empty spaces looks lame in a rack.
A-Designs and Empirical Labs both offer 2 slot horizontal racks.
Old 6th April 2015
  #21
With silk red on the 542 you should get a little upper mid transformer "sparkle". Blue handles the low end.
Old 6th April 2015
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by harrisonv View Post
Thank you all for the excellent feedback. To be clear the effect of tape I am looking for is not just rolling off the high end, tape and emulators i like (i think either the 5042 or 542 and ats 1 are my best bets) create a nice distortion with the upper mids and even some higher frequencies. I don't just want something that sounds like an EQ that dulls stuff out, or merely adding gain/compression. I want to know I put a saturator on something. To me the effect of tape saturation or emulators when pushed hard should be obvious and if its of high quality can be very pleasing for hip hop, electronic/pop tracks.
What's weird is that in my days of using tape, I was very careful to keep levels below the point where "saturation" could be heard. I never liked the sound of it. Now, people are slathering 3rd order distortion over everything.
Old 6th April 2015
  #23
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Coates View Post
What's weird is that in my days of using tape, I was very careful to keep levels below the point where "saturation" could be heard. I never liked the sound of it. Now, people are slathering 3rd order distortion over everything.
ha right? every piece of gear now comes with a harmonics button. engage all buttons, run for cover ..
Old 7th April 2015
  #24
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Audio Child's Avatar
 

I think the deceit is in expecting too much from a single unit for analogue vibe! really tracking multiple stacks a lil hot with a decent pre is the gold!
Old 7th April 2015
  #25
Gear Nut
 

Meh. If you had me mixing in the 70's on tape I would still be pushing it hard as hell, or on a dolby tape machine with no decoding… Always been my preference.

As for the sparkle I am referring to the way the upper mids are brought out with the added gain. Some saturators sound subtle and warm/dull out the sound without adding or complimenting the upper mid harmonics. Thats not what I am looking for, I want a nice pleasing distortion/brightness in the uppermids while still taming some of the more abrasive stuff.
I find it a little strange you have never heard of tape effecting higher frequencies… to me this is the reason for choosing tape saturation over other vintage harmonics, tube, etc.

I am not looking for an unrealistic magic box… all of this is attainable in one unit, the ATS-1 seems to do exactly what I am looking for. Sadly it is still very expensive so I am hoping to find an alternative.

The saturator in ozone 6 is actually pretty good, i have the studer, and the other UAD but these don't really give me what I am after. The phoenix vst or whatever I have heard a lot about but can't use because I don't have HD, so I'm basically just looking for something that gets me a step further then software.

Thanks for the replies.
Old 7th April 2015
  #26
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IanBSC's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by harrisonv View Post
As for the sparkle I am referring to the way the upper mids are brought out with the added gain. Some saturators sound subtle and warm/dull out the sound without adding or complimenting the upper mid harmonics. Thats not what I am looking for, I want a nice pleasing distortion/brightness in the uppermids while still taming some of the more abrasive stuff.
The sparkle I occasionally hear with tape is generally not what I'd call distortion. I believe this effect is from the tape machines EQ circuit to compensate for loss of highs and is more pronounced with 15ips.

You can do a similar effect if you have a good tape sim and EQ. For example, with the Fatso I use a little clipping and the lots of the Warmth circuit to smooth, soften and dull the highs, and then use a large HF boost either before or after the Fatso to compensate. That way the peaky sound and harshness is smoothed from the highs, but the sound is bright. It's a little bit like using a ribbon mic and than adding lots of HF shelf.
Old 7th April 2015
  #27
I always like the Portico 5042 but agreed it was a little limited in what it could offer. The newer 542 does look a little more appelaing as it is more flexible and offers a more solid sound than any plug in emulator of tape.
Old 7th April 2015
  #28
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127Riot's Avatar
 

Fatso not tape

I own the fatso, it does not sound like tape at all. It sounds great on many things but I would not consider it a tape sound.
Old 7th April 2015
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by IanBSC View Post
The sparkle I occasionally hear with tape is generally not what I'd call distortion. I believe this effect is from the tape machines EQ circuit to compensate for loss of highs and is more pronounced with 15ips.

You can do a similar effect if you have a good tape sim and EQ. For example, with the Fatso I use a little clipping and the lots of the Warmth circuit to smooth, soften and dull the highs, and then use a large HF boost either before or after the Fatso to compensate. That way the peaky sound and harshness is smoothed from the highs, but the sound is bright. It's a little bit like using a ribbon mic and than adding lots of HF shelf.
Exactly. EQ pre emphasis and de emphasis on tape machines have nothing to do with distortion/saturation. It's also pretty easy to emulate as you described.
Old 7th April 2015
  #30
Gear Addict
If you want something that smooths yet emphasizes the upper mids, get one of these: Behringer TUBE Ultra-Q T1951

It's an eq but it has a 'warmth' feature on each channel that does exactly what you are looking for to the mids. I use it in conjunction with my Fatso. They are discontinued but if you find one used, buy it! They're cheap :-)

Dan

edit: sorry about the small pic!
Attached Thumbnails
Tape Emulation - fatso, 5042, ats 1-bereq.jpg  
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